Kezia Dugdale: Scottish Labour ready for another election

Kezia Dugdale has said her party is ready for another snap election, saying she would 'relish' the contest and claiming Labour could make significant gains

Kezia Dugdale heads to the polling booth. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Kezia Dugdale heads to the polling booth. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Speaking ahead of a meeting with Jeremy Corbyn at Westminster, the Scottish Labour leader challenged the SNP to back planned amendments to the Queen’s speech in a bid to bring down Theresa May’s government.

“We’ve had five electoral contests in Scotland in the last two-and-a-half years - why not have a sixth if it means getting the Tories out of office?” Ms Dugdale said.

“They clearly have no mandate for a hard Brexit and no mandate for their austerity platform.

“Labour’s articulated how we can end austerity, how we can stop the cuts to benefits, how we can stop the cuts to public services, and if delivering that means another electoral context in October, then I think that’s something that everybody in the Scottish Labour Party would relish.

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“We are still very much on an election footing and that’s a contest we would relish. We will take any opportunity we can to get the Tories out of office because of the damage they’re doing to working people, so of course we would welcome another election.”

The Scottish Labour leader said the party’s six gains and one hold in Scotland had led MPs from across the UK to brand the group led by new shadow Scottish Secretary Lesley Laird “the Magnificent Seven”.

Labour finished second in 21 seats across Scotland at the general election. Ms Dugdale said: “If you look at Motherwell and Wishaw, Airdrie and Shotts, and Glasgow East, we were just 600 votes off having a group of 10 here.

“So we are very much alive to the fact that the difference between Labour having a majority and taking power or not is making more progress in Scotland, and that’s something both Jeremy Corbyn and I are committed to doing.”

Setting out her demands ahead of the Queen’s Speech, Ms Dugdale called on the Prime Minister to reverse cuts to social security and Scotland’s revenue budget worth £2bn over the next four years.

She also demanded additional financial support for women hit by the increasing retirement age, more help for the North Sea oil and gas industry, and the cancellation of VAT payments levied from Scotland’s national police and fire services.

Following reports of cross-party plans to support tomorrow’s amendments, which could see the government brought down if the Conservative fail to get their programme for government through the House of Commons.

“There’s no concept of a progressive alliance for a number of reasons, not least that we don’t accept that the SNP are a progressive force,” Ms Dugdale said.

“I expect them to back our plans to end austerity, because they constantly tell us they’re an anti-austerity party. There’s no negotiation required for that.

“Just as we said before the election, if we are in a position to form an administration here in Westminster, we would publish a Labour budget rooted in our manifesto principles, and encourage the SNP to back it.

“If they are an anti-austerity party, Labour’s manifesto is clearly the platform to end the cuts and invest in social security and public services.

“They either back that or walk away and let the Tories continue to be in power.”